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Movie Mom

Movie Mom

Movie Mom™


New in Theaters
  New to DVD

Tomorrowland
Lowest Recommended Age: 4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

American Sniper
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015

I'll See You in My Dreams
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015

 

Strange Magic
Lowest Recommended Age: Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 2015

 

Mortdecai
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

New in Theaters

grade:
B+

Tomorrowland

Lowest Recommended Age:
4th - 6th Grades
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for sequences of sci-fi action violence and peril, thematic elements, and language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

I'll See You in My Dreams

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG-13 for sexual material, drug use and brief strong language
Release Date:
May 22, 2015
grade:
B+

Mad Max: Fury Road

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for intense sequences of violence throughout, and for disturbing images
Release Date:
May 15, 2015

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New to DVD

pick of the week
grade:
B+

American Sniper

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
R for strong and disturbing war violence, and language throughout including some sexual references
Release Date:
January 16, 2015
grade:
C

Strange Magic

Lowest Recommended Age:
Kindergarten - 3rd Grade
MPAA Rating:
Rated PG for some action and scary images
Release Date:
January 23, 2015
grade:
D

Mortdecai

Lowest Recommended Age:
Mature High Schooler
MPAA Rating:
Rated R for some language and sexual material
Release Date:
January 23, 2015

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Spanglish

posted by rkumar
A-
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004
A-
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2004

Every few years, writer/director James Brooks makes another smart, sensitive movie about smart, sensitive people who love each other and drive each other crazy. In “Spanglish,” as in Broadcast News, Terms of Endearment, and As Good as it Gets, his characters are self-centered, immature, neurotic, needy, a little too smart for their own good, scared to change and more scared not to. They are not the usual one-endearing-quirk-apiece usually permitted in Hollywood films and his plots are not the usual “act one introduction, act two complication, act three resolution” usually required in Hollywood films. In other words, he makes movies for grown-ups.

In “Spanglish,” Brooks has taken one of the most overused movie set-ups, one that is even borderline offensive and turned it into something of delicacy and insight. Think you’ve seen the clueless white family humanized by an outspoken but cuddly minority too many times? That’s because you have. But this time is worth a look. This isn’t your children’s Bringing Down the House.

The almost unforgiveably beautiful Paz Vega plays Flor, a woman who brought her six-year-old daughter from Mexico to America in search of a better life, but managed to find Mexico in America by staying within the confines of an all-immigrant neighborhood for the next six years. Now she is looking for a better-paying job so that she does not have to be away from her daughter as much. So she ventures out of her safe little world with her cousin as interpreter, to apply for a job as a housekeeper with a wealthy, loving, but highly dysfunctional family.

The interview is with Deborah Clasky (Tea Leoni). Deborah’s company closed down and she is spinning out of control as a full-time mother. When Flor’s cousin walks into a glass door, Deborah somehow believes that is is appropriate to (1) say “I’m not mad” and (2) thrust a $20 bill into her hand. Flor may not speak English, but she knows that (1) they have agreed to pay her an enormous amount of money, more than she had been making in two jobs, and (2) there is a lot she does not know about how they do things, but she has something to teach them, too, starting with how to pronounce her name.

The Claskys rent a beach house for the summer, and the only way for Flor to keep her job is to bring her daughter to live with them. This presents enormously difficult issues of class and money and boundaries and values. A lot of complications and hurt feelings — and some very intensive video English lessons and some even more intensive life lessons later, everyone has to face some tough decisions.

Parents should know that the movie includes a very explicit sexual situation and other sexual references, including adultery and promiscuity. Characters drink, including drinking to cope with being angry and sad, and one character has an alcohol abuse problem. Characters use very strong language and there are many tense and unhappy family confrontations. A strength of the movie is the positive portrayal of intelligent and courageous Latina women.

Families who see this movie should talk about what Flor, John, and Deb were looking for from each other. Why did Deb buy Bernie clothes that were too small for her? Why did Brooks choose to tell the story through a college application essay?

Families who enjoy this film will also appreciate Brooks’ other films as well as the television shows he helped to write, including The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Taxi.

Blade: Trinity

posted by rkumar
C+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004
C+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2004

Let’s not pretend that “Trinity”, the third chapter in the ongoing tale of a human-vampire hybrid out to kill all vampires, is a good movie and instead say it is a solid “Blade” movie – meaning, if you are not already a fan, don’t bother.

Wesley Snipes still plays the title character, a tattooed human whose mother was bitten by a vampire as she was giving birth, imbuing him with both his abilities, such as his super-strength, pointy teeth and knack for walking away from fights without a scratch, and his invincibility to the typical bloodsucker’s no-no’s like sunbathing, silver and garlic. True to his original 1973 comic book origination story, Blade is a powerful vampire-hunter and one of the first black heroes in the genre.

This time around, writer-director David S. Goyer (who wrote all three in the “Blade” saga and directed the forgettable “ZigZag” before trying his hand at directing here) drags out the UR-vampire, Dracula, for Blade to fight and perks up the movie with a couple of eye-candy, joke-cracking sidekicks. The plot is there solely to accessorize the big fight: Blade is framed by the vampires; Blade’s sidekick, Whistler, is killed; the vampires dig up (literally) Dracula; things look bleak; new allies appear; a long-shot plan is hatched; and –et voila— we get our big fight.

Snipes no longer plays Blade for humor, as he did in the first “Blade”. Indeed, the role has lost character, humor and emotions over the length of the trilogy. Whether busy trying to grimace through his prosthetic orthodonture or exploding doors with his kicks, Blade exhibits the whole range of moods from grumpy to grumpier. With his perpetual mock-turtleneck and leather overcoat, Blade now relies upon his sidekicks to provide the sexy physiques as well as the one-liners.

With the loss of Whistler (Kris Kristofferson), the dry, rough banter of old is replaced by the snarky, self-effacing irony of Hannibal King (Ryan Reynolds, of “Van Wilder” and TV’s “Two Guys and a Girl” fame), providing most of the movie’s laughs. For the vampires, it is indie-movie queen, Parker Posey, who adds humor by unleashing her inner bad-girl with unapologetic, over-the-top glee as Danica Talos, the brains behind Dracula’s return.

Good old Dracula aka Drake (Dominic Purcell) is no longer an effete aristocrat, but is re-imagined as a bare-chested heart-throb out of Ancient Sumeria, who, like Blade, is invincible to the usual vampire weaknesses. Purcell is, however, entirely vulnerable to the difficulties of acting in a script that calls for non-stop action, one which renders “talking” scenes sluggish and necessary only as a bridge to the next fight scene. Like the attractive but forgettable Jessica Biel (Texas Chainsaw Massacre, TV’s “7th Heaven”) as Abigail Whistler, Purcell’s acting has the sensitivity of a lead-pipe and makes one grateful for Snipes’ two-dimensional Blade.

The fight scenes are plentiful, the characters familiar and the end predictable. For “Blade” fans, “Trinity” will be fine popcorn fare and provide fodder for comic-book store discussions about which movie had the best fight scenes and whether WWE’s Triple H will have a future career playing numb-skull heavies (since he does a yeoman’s job in this one). For those not already bitten by the “Blade” bug, there is nothing here that can withstand the light of day.

Parents should know that these are extremely violent action movies, that often veer into carnage usually reserved for the horror genre. Characters are shot, sliced, dismembered, burnt, tortured, and bled. There is a scene where a blind woman is hunted down and killed within ear-shot of her daughter. There are scenes of kidnapped humans in drug-induced comas being bled to feed the vampires. Frequent profanity is played for humor in this movie and sexual references are extremely explicit, including incest and sex toys.

Families who see this movie could talk about the concept of honor that Drake discusses with Blade, about which character –if any—acts in an honorable way, and whether the concept here is used as justification for acting monstrously. Nietzche’s much-used warning to “battle not with monsters, lest you become one” is the leitmotif of Blade’s existence. What separates Blade from the vampires? Why does the audience revel in someone who seeks to solve all his problems with violence?

Families who enjoyed this movie might enjoy the original “Blade” and “Blade 2”, as well as John Carpenter’s “Vampires”, “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” (the movie, not the TV series), and the Japanese anime “Blood: the Last Vampire”.

Ocean’s Twelve

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Middle School
Movie Release Date:2004
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Middle School
Movie Release Date: 2004

The movie’s irresistible tagline is “Twelve is the new eleven.” But this twelve is more like the old eleven, the first “Ocean’s 11″ movie, starring Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack, where the chief pleasure is in seeing how much fun the cool guys are having spoofing themselves. Unfortunately, the audience doesn’t have quite as good a time as the guys up on the screen. But that still leaves a lot of fun to spread around. And a lot of cool.

In contrast to the high-gloss style of the first one, the sequel is shot in an informal, slightly gritty, almost documentary style. It starts off well, briskly bringing us up to date on what has been going on with each of the eleven who robbed three Las Vegas casinos in one night. The man they robbed, Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia), has tracked them all down, from Danny Ocean (George Clooney) and his wife, Tess (Julia Roberts) on down to the bickering Molloy brothers (Scott Caan and Casey Affleck). And he gives them two weeks to pay it all back, with interest.

That means it’s time to go back to work. They pull off a quick heist in Amsterdam, but it turns out to be the first step in a much larger job, the usual irreplaceable treasure in the usual impenetrable setting.

There is a complication, too — they are competing with the most successful thief in the world, a fabulously wealthy and remarkably agile Frenchman with a title who has a personal reason for making sure they are not successful. There is another complication as well. Rusty (Brad Pitt) has a romantic entanglement with Isabel (Catherine Zeta Jones), an Interpol agent whose job is catching thieves.

The problem is that the movie counts too much on having us on the side of the thieves because of the first film and just because we love the performers. But it works against our loyalty by violating the first rule of heist movies — without giving away too much, I’ll just say that the resolution is not entirely satisfying. The motivation of one of the key characters is just silly. The twists are telegraphed in advance.

According to press reports, the gang wanted to work together again (especially if it meant hanging out in Rome, Amsterdam, and France) and so they grafted their characters onto another script. The seams show; they even pop at times, as when a bunch of the characters have to be waylaid before the big day just because the original script didn’t have enough things for everyone to do. Oceans Eleven had great characters and a very clever plot with a heist that had you saying “Oh, THAT’S how they did it” on the way back to your car. This one has great characters and a thin plot that gets stretched even thinner. On the way back to your car you’ll be talking about whether the popcorn was stale because if you try to untangle the plot, you’ll regret it.

Better to skim across the top of it, as the performers do, and enjoy the sly by-play from the returning players, including a witty cameo by Topher Grace and a quick appearance with Scott L. Schwartz as Bruiser. The heists themselves are not much, but it is hilarious to see the gang take time to discuss whether it’s fair to call the group “Ocean’s Eleven” when they are independent contractors or when Matt Damon as Linus explains, like a shy candidate for “The Apprentice” that he wants to assume more of a leadership role this time.

Eddie Izzard and Robbie (Hagrid) Coltrane are a pleasure, as always, in small roles. Catherine Zeta Jones and some surprise new additions are fine but it’s our old friends who, true to form, well, steal the show, with dialogue as cool and contrapuntal as a jazz riff.

Parents should know that the film has a few bad words and some mild, non-explicit sexual references. Characters drink and smoke and of course most of the movie’s heroes are thieves and liars who joke about not having any morals.

Families who see this film should talk about why it is hard for Danny to give up being a thief. Why are Tess and Isabel drawn to men who do not tell the truth? Why are movie audiences drawn to them? What matters to each of the eleven? What would you do if you had $16 million?

Families who enjoy this film will also enjoy both of the earlier films and other heist classics like The Italian Job, Topkapi, and To Catch a Thief.

The Aviator

posted by rkumar
B+
Lowest Recommended Age:Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date:2004
B+
Lowest Recommended Age: Mature High Schooler
Movie Release Date: 2004

A true story that is both touching and thrilling and tons of talent on both sides of the camera are enough to make this a good movie, but not enough to make it a great one.

It is in part the sheer grandness of the story of Howard Hughes, a story that could easily fill five or six movies, that makes even an energetic and muscular three-hour-epic feel like it is just skimming the surface of Hughes’ life and his character. There is no way to try to cover even this one section of Hughes’ life without making it feel like a “greatest hits” clip job instead of a story with a real narrative arc.

So it falls into the standard reductionist biopic traps (see Ray and Beyond the Sea) of trying to tie too much to specific childhood events and fumbling the narrative challenge of conveying an era and a life at the same time. And it never rises from incident to insight. Was the determination that led Hughes to spend more money, use more cameras, and reshoot more footage on Hell’s Angels than could ever be justified tied to the obssessive-compulsive impulse that had him washing his hands until they bled? The movie seems to tie his phobia about germs to a flashback to a weirdly sexualized bathing scene with his mother washing him as she explains a quarantine for typhus. This seems like a throwback to the era it depicts, where, in those early days of psychotherapy, everyone but Orson Welles seemed to think that any life could be explained by one childhood trauma.

The second problem is in the mis-casting of the leading man. Leonardo DiCaprio is a brilliantly gifted actor. He has made effective use of his imperishably boyish quality in Titanic, Catch Me If You Can, and especially What’s Eating Gilbert Grape?. But here it works against him as he tries to play Hughes the man, and the performance often seems made up of squint, tics, and accent. As a result, Hughes seems more like a kid struggling with ADD than the tortured larger-than-life man who produced era-defining movies (Hell’s Angels, the original Scarface, and The Front Page), dated the world’s biggest movie stars (Katharine Hepburn, Ava Gardner, Jean Harlow), founded an airline (TWA), owned seven Las Vegas casinos, designed and test-piloted airplanes, risked fortunes and made bigger ones, and died as a recluse, the prisoner of illness and of the greedy people around him who did whatever he said instead of insisting he get help.

But no one does pageantry better than Scorcese and this is a brilliant film, even with its flaws. Cate Blanchett evokes Hepburn’s accent and her odd and endearing combination of directness and sensitivity without making it into an impersonation. Kate Beckinsale never evokes the real Ava Gardner, but makes her character into a woman capable of a great but practical tenderness. It is a treat to watch Hughes assemble the world’s largest private air force to make his movie, design and fly experimental airplanes, analyze the cigarette girl’s smile, become imprisoned in the men’s room because he can’t bear to touch the germ-covered doorknob, and take on the most formidable of opponents from Katharine Hepburn’s family to the movie rating board and Maine’s corrupt senator. The crash scene is bone-chillingly harrowing and the scenes of old-time Hollywood reflect the director’s deep love of that era. Like the life it depicts, it is uneven and fascinating.

Parents should know that the movie has some very violent airplane crashes, some causing serious injury. Characters drink, smoke, and use strong language. There are very explicit sexual references and situations and some non-sexual nudity. Some audience members may be upset by the scenes involving Hughes’ struggles with mental illness.

Families who see this movie should talk about what made Hughes so passionate about his many projects? Why didn’t he want people to know he could not hear? Why didn’t he mind drinking from the same bottle? Why wouldn’t Ava Gardner let him buy anything other than dinner?

Families may also want to learn more about obsessive-compulsive disorder. And they may want to consider whether Hughes might have had to get treatment if he had not been surrounded by people who would do whatever he said in order to continue working for him.

Families who like this film will also enjoy Tucker and the perennial best-movie-of-all-time choice, Citizen Kane. They should see some of Hughes’ movies, like Scarface, Hell’s Angels, and the notorious The Outlaw. They should watch some of the movie featuring his glamorous escorts, like Jean Harlow, Katherine Hepburn, and Ava Gardner. And they will enjoy the fantasy inspired by the story of one of the many people who claimed to be Hughes’ heir, Melvin and Howard.

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